June 7, 1997 in Nation/World

Medical Breakthrough Aids Lupus Sufferers

Compiled From Wire Services

Lupus, an incurable disease that turns victims’ immune systems against them, has proved vulnerable to a new radical approach that destroys and then revives the body’s natural defenses, doctors said Friday.

A 24-year-old woman dangerously ill with the disease shows no signs of lupus in her system two months after the treatment, said Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The new process takes stem cells, which grow into bone marrow cells, a foundation of the immune system, from a patient’s blood and purifies them. Chemotherapy destroys the patient’s immune system and the purified cells are returned to blossom and re-create the immune system.

But destroying the immune system exposes patients to other dangers, so for now only the most severely afflicted lupus patients, or about 1 percent, should receive the treatment, Burt said.

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